I was looking through my never-ending Kindle list yesterday. I find it interesting that as time goes on fewer and fewer marketing books make it onto my reading list.
This has been a big change for me.
Five years ago all the books on my list would have been marketing books. I used to hoover up anything that was recommended to me. The problem when you do that is you end up a little… one-dimensional. You end up like a miniature clone of the people you have been reading.
I’m currently reading a book called Ancient Worlds: An Epic History of East and West, by Michael Scott. Are there marketing lessons in it? Well there are actually, if you keep your eyes open.
One of the great tussles of the ancient world was for control of the Mediterranean between the Romans and the Carthaginians. In November 218BC, the Carthaginian leader Hannibal marched his army on 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry and 37 elephants over the Alps to engage Rome.
Why did the Romans eventually win? Well as some historians have suggested, a key factor seems to be who was fighting the battles. Carthage employed mercenaries in their armies. By the time he was in Northern Italy, Hannibal’s army was mostly made up of Gauls.
Rome on the other hand employed civilians. When it came down to it the Romans had more skin in the game.
Where is the marketing lesson in that?
You need people with skin in the game if you are going to achieve major victories. The idea that you can patch together a network of mercenaries to manage your website, your AdWords ads, your Facebook ads, your email campaigns is a compelling one.
When the going gets tough, will they stick around?
Take on information from a wider range of sources and you’ll start to see the recurring themes. The problems Hannibal faced weren’t so different from the problem you face in organising a network of marketing suppliers.
It’s the recurring themes that matter.